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Palliative care nurse practitioner, instructor, mother returns to UMass Chan to advance leadership skills

Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing student Shawna Steadman, MSN’09, ACNP, ACHPN, instructor in nursing, has a lifelong connection to UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center. Steadman's mother, a UMass Memorial nurse for more than 36 years, discovered she was pregnant with Steadman during a shift at the hospital.

“She was working on 3 West as a floor nurse when she got the call on the hallway phone that she was pregnant with me,” Steadman said.

Steadman, a Dudley native, volunteered at the hospital as a teenager. After earning a bachelor’s in biology at Providence College, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps, enrolling in the Graduate Entry Pathway program at the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing and earning her master’s degree in nursing in 2009.

“At the time, a master’s degree was the standard for being a nurse practitioner,” Steadman said. “Over the years, I’ve seen a need for leadership within the nurse practitioner’s scope, but also within palliative care.”

Wanting to build her leadership skills, the mother of three enrolled in the Post Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program at UMass Chan.

“A big part of the Doctor of Nursing Practice is learning how to advance within an organization and I knew that the DNP would give me a more comprehensive education than a simple conference,” she said.

Steadman’s experience with patients with serious illnesses inspired her DNP scholarly project. Working with fellow student Amanda Hazeltine, MS, CNP, AGACNP-BC, Steadman is addressing quality advance care planning in the intensive care unit.

“A big part of my research is to improve serious illness discussions about patient goals and what their expectations are as the illness progresses. The challenge is these discussions aren’t documented in a central way that’s easily retrievable by other providers,” Steadman said.

Steadman teaches advanced palliative care to graduate nursing students and pain management to resident physicians.

The Student Spotlight series features UMass Chan Medical School students in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing and T.H. Chan School of Medicine. For more information about UMass Chan Medical School and how to apply, visit the Prospective Students page.

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Mother of two and former educator leads quality improvement project while pursuing Doctor of Nursing Practice degree